Sunday, October 29, 2006

In Which Our Hero Attends a Ska Show

It’s nice when, with no more than a quick leafing through the gig guide you can appraise from the name of the band alone exactly what a live show will be like. Of course judging a band like this is hardly accurate, think the Dirty Three who aren’t a sleazy pub rock band or The Drones who aren’t an avant-garde noise experiment. But sometimes I am pleased to encounter some degree of success. It is reasonably apparent for instance that Because of Ghosts are a post-rock band, the Oren Ambarchi Noise Trio will play with random static and high pitched squeals or Acid Mothers Temple and the Cosmic Inferno play (obviously) Japanese psychedelia.

But approaching Sunday’s show at the Arthouse (several weeks ago now) I had seriously no idea what to expect of the bands Skaladdin and Skamikaze. (nb. for those still adjusting to my particuarly mode of writing, this is sarcasm)

The band King City Seven played before these mystery acts and here at least I did know what to expect because I had seen them before. Yes, it was a fateful summers day about this time last year when the King City Seven snatched away childhood dreams of being the world’s hardest rocking musicians. You see in the heady days of my youth I played guitar in one of the most promising new outfits around, The Heat Death Of The Universe, combining a love for attitude, rock music, and the thermodynamical laws of entropy. It was a great time, partying every night, rocking out everyday. We had it all drugs, sex, legions of fans and record label offers (well actually none of those things) but on the crucial night of our first gig at the Beaumaris Hotel’s battle of the bands competition the King City Seven stole our dream. The gig went terribly, firstly we hadn’t realised that we needed to do a sound check beforehand and so our guitar chords sounded like harsh and high pitched noise discords. Secondly our lead singer Ben had, citing artistic differences left for more promising prospects interstate. Thirdly and not least, our songs were just seriously lame. Anyway the King City Seven stole the show but I don’t begrudge them, they’re actually terrific guys and play an upbeat blend of ska music and pub rock. It’s not really my thing but they’d be a great band to play a party or a packed pub instead of those awful cover bands that seem to be the trend these days.

Skamikaze had come down from Queensland for the show and it was a pretty enjoyable one. I guess I don’t need to say what they sounded like. The highlight was a cover of the Specials, A message to you Rudy and the Suicide Machines, No Face. It was pretty enjoyable and I was sort of really getting into the whole ska thing towards the end. Which is somewhat strange. For the past few years I’ve been focussing perhaps overmuch on intellectual music to the denigration of emotional music. This subject deserves an essay to itself which I’ll reserve for a more favorable moment but for now these admirable words of Sir T. Browne in his Religio Medice will suffice, ‘And even that vulgar [and tavern music] which makes one man merry and another mad, strikes in me a deep fit of devotion.’

Skaladdin are from Switzerland. They are awesome. Really their show pretty much blew me away with the fun, with the dancing, with the humanity. You see when I was younger I was really into ska music, ska music and oddly metal, in those days would I two step the streets in my Doc’s and ripped jeans, sporting a patched leather jacket, Dead Kennedy’s shirt and a carefully shaved head whilst yelling anarchist slogans at squares. Well not really, though I did for a while endorse anarchism. Anyway Skaladdin brought it all flooding back, they played some Less Than Jake covers (the best ska band ever), Rancid and I think more the Specials. I relearnt and reveled in quite skillfully that particular brand of dancing peculiar to Ska music that is named skanking. The bands originals were ace too, in short I just had a really great time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sodastream - A Review?

So yes, it has been notably quiet here of late. And though I use that term, notable it is doubtful that you sir, have indulged to give this fact consideration. At least one possible extenuation, for me may spring to mind, being that it is so near the conclusion of the study year. To this I acknowledge a small concession but far more plausible is the reason you have already settled upon, viz. I have fallen foul of that terrible affliction known as sloth. These past months have seen less updates on the site then even the champion of inertia, Ben himself would dare to permit. To this there has been mounting within me the awful reproach of having left these vital posts unwritten. Well what then, more posting? I shrink to make such a promise lest that dreadful malaise strikes me once more, but nonetheless I shall essay these coming months to endure it.

Of course writing more is one thing and one upon which little effort may be expended. No the difficulty lies in the germ of writing. These are not easily came by and if my efforts lead but to more posts in the spirit of the previous then there is no hope. Another such scrap however will not be this review. It has been over a month since I saw the band, Sodastream and then promised to report and promptly. But I couldn’t do it. During that interval I have made numerous sallies in this purpose but have achieved nothing further than this retarded MS Paint picture.

I just don’t have much to say for the band. I arrived at the show unpardonably late though still warmly received by the friends I so carelessly affronted. After the terrific haste I had made to arrive after work I sadly could managed only a couple of fortifying brews to help overcome my initial discomfiture. On this would I ask the reader to think me no drunkard but for the fact that by the absurdly relaxed criteria this word holds I must confess it.

Well, how for some more preliminary remarks? Sodastream consist of two musicians though on the night I am supposed to right now be addressing they entertained a third. Guitar, double bass and drums for the trine. What of it, then? Dear reader, I must beg your indulgence for some time more. You have come here now perhaps after a long-regretted “sodastream” google search or perhaps from another less inconsequential blog site. Perhaps indeed you have been here before. The point to be made is that though I may in appearance seem to be desperately stalling in reality I am with true literary virtuosity setting the scene for what will undoubtedly be a climactic and insightful review.

So then, the Sodastream show was satisfactory. Some of their songs were rather beautiful, some were rather dull. A key problem I believe was my complete unfamiliarity with their material before the night but this is hardly an excuse as almost all the bands I review here are previously unknown to me. But they just didn’t make me feel it, if you follow. Of course their are mitigating circumstances; firstly it was held at the Corner hotel leaving little opportunity for the intimacy so vital to indie/acoustic bands further I was little predisposed to hear music that night being still flustered as I mentioned far earlier. Sodastream played a tight show displaying deft musicianship and competent songwriting but it was not anything spectacular or evidently remarkable.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Meaningless Milestone #1

Alright, this sites counter at the bottom left column just ticked over One Thousand hits.

Thanks then to you generous reader.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Review: [Kes and Band + The Triangles]

Following even a casual survey of the range of art displayed at the National Gallery of Victoria one finds the majority of the most excellent paintings (and I distinctly recall at least one breathtakingly consummate bust) are based on religious events or themes. Recall the many impassioned images of the Christ painted in the Renaissance and contrast to these the listless virtuoso portraiture in the 18th century. Think you, that Bach could have touched the heights of his St. John Passion, Mozart his D-minor Requiem, Stevens his Seven Swans without being first filled to the brim with the most profound devotion?

Of course the contention I have just now outlined is completely absurd. Confessedly I do in my more frivolous moods I enjoy the argument, yes the one just above, and in a way I would like it to contain some small crux of truth. That is, great art is infused with the awesome power of God’s love. This fancy may account for why I love a band like the Triangles so goddamn much, blasphemy, yes unhappily I am myself an atheist. But you see when the Triangles start playing their gorgeous, whimsical pop music I have something of a religious experience. As the guitar ascends the major key so do my spirits soar and when the xylophone taps out a joyful melody I gleam with radiant mirth and devotion and...

Your pardon. So the Triangles played a pretty good set at the Tote on the Sabbath. Two things were disappointing however. Firstly they have determined to reduce the number of random instruments they use on stage (eg. ukuleles, accordions, cups, bugles, various and manifold random keys, balloons etc.) and instead play a more rock based guitar set. This I feel is a mistake. Their talent lay precisely in the chaos and unpredictability of their music and shows, cutting back on instruments in favour of consistency and saving time between songs is disappointing. Even if they sometimes do forget a bugle say and can't play a song or spend ages looking for a lost harmonica it's all part of their singular charm. My other grievance is that they didn’t play that song about building helicopter number three though bats and i am your valley were particuarly good. Anyway their new songs are meritous if sensible but the Triangles if you have happened to google yourselves and are reading this then take heed.

Also playing was the talented Kes with his very talented backing band. Hopefully I’ll manage a fuller review of Kes at a later date. Basically the set was awesome. Imagine if you will, a folk band jamming psychedelic rock freak outs. Maybe you’re familiar with Syd Barrett? Well a bit like that, nowhere near as inspired and erratic but every bit as good. I really can’t remember too much else though the lyrics were pretty interesting, one song seemed to be about wizardry. But I do recall being completely blown away.

In short, The Triangles and Kes are two bands you really need to see.